The Essential Albums

Header photo by Will Folsom via Flickr.  License CC 2.0

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Robbindsale

The radio station The Current, KCMP (89.3 FM – MPR’s answer in 2005 to the fact that a hefty chunk of  its listeners were middle aging), has taken on compiling the 893 most essential albums of all time.

Back in mid-April they asked listeners to help by sending in their votes for individual listeners’ “top ten” albums.

What constitutes an Essential Album? According to Jim McGuinn, The Current’s program director, these are the albums that, if your house was on fire (and there was no such thing as an iPhone), you would run in and grab before they burned. They are the albums that may have changed your life, or perhaps that got you through important life changes; the albums you would want with you on a desert island along with that volleyball.

The station received around 8,000 votes from listeners all over the world – with over 14,000 albums receiving at least one vote.  Beginning Thursday morning May 5, the choices will be unveiled and played from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. each weekday through next Thursday May 12, and over the weekend from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The Current expects to unveil album #1 around 7 p.m. on the 12th. I should add that this is during their spring pledge drive.

Even though The Current’s voting is over, let’s do a Baboon poll:

What are your top 5 – 10 essential albums?

 

98 thoughts on “The Essential Albums”

  1. thanks bir
    the current drove me and drives me crazy. the purchase by mpr of the good old st olaf public radio station so the mpr news classial division coule be free of anything unpure and appeal to the headbanger college age crowd may have been a good idea and i guess my millennials do have very different taste form mine but i remember tuning in to hear the final days of the morning show form 6 until 9 and then being regailed at 901 with the loudest most obnoxious metal music the d could muster . everyday. the statement was being made that the durrent was not about folk or world music. it was about indie and headbanging.
    i dont care at all what their idea of what the worlds greatest albums are. 8000 people who dont know what band paul mac cartney was in before.
    my album list could go on and on. my kids make fun of me for saying that this is one of the greatest movies of all time 15 or 20 times a week. my album list is going to be the same.
    the beatles white album, sgt peppers revolver
    the stones high tides and green grass or whatever it is
    parsley sage rosmary and thyme, rhymin simon
    eletric ladyland
    tea for the tillerman
    sweet baby james
    frewheelin bob dylan, bringing it all back home
    blue joni mitchell
    every steve goodman album ever made

    Liked by 4 people

    1. When I first looked at the picture on the Steve Goodman clip I thought something very strange had happened to his nose. Then realized it was just the black “Play” button dropped onto a mostly-black background.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. alices restraunt, cosby stills and nash, every good boy derserves a favor, yes fragile, miles davis kind of blue, john coltrane a love supreme, ella fitzgerald, the supremes, rubber soul, blond on blond
    abbey road, yo yo ma playing bach cello concertos, (heard a story about them the other day and i owe pablo casals for the joy i find there)
    peter and the wolf by leonard bernstein, west side story
    beggers banquet, my fair lady, oklahoma, the flower drum song, fiddler on the roof, chick corea leprachan, robert johnson complete recordings, waylon and willie, james borwn the everly brothers, beach boys, jethro tull, and of course carol king tapestry

    Liked by 3 people

  3. i had to store my albums when we moves and its pretty scary, there are about 10,000 albums on warehosue shelves out there. at one time i knew all my albums song for song. that got a way form em a while ago but i still hear the next song coming on old greg brown albums old janis joplin recordings old harry nillsen golen oldies i played a hundred times until the woree out i miss the pops and clicks i had added to my albums. give me a tube amp and a pair of big old suitcase sized speakers. linda do i still have a subwoffer somewhere. i dont hin my new neighbors will apreciate the stereo in the garage but so it goes, my wife cringes when i head out to play my tunes int ehgarage because we are mere feet away fromm the nearest neighbor and the traffic driving and walking by. its not busy but its steady. tunes to live by. thats what we all need.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. These are the first that come to mind:

    Harvest by Neil Young
    Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell
    Astral Weeks by Van Morrison
    Highway 61 Revisted by Bob Dylan
    Bruised Orange by John Prine
    Heart Like a Wheel by Linda Ronstadt
    Sweetheart of the Rodeo by the Byrds
    The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle by Bruce Springsteen
    Based on a True Story by the Del Lords
    Transverse Ciy by Warren Zevon
    Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heatbreakers

    Of course, as soon as you narrow it down to ten, you start to notice what’s missing – What?! No Janis Joplin? Where’s Steve Goodman? There should be something by NRBQ. How about the older stuff, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams – I can’t choose.

    I suspect the Current’s list will mostly include music made from about the mid 60’s to the present. My list is mostly from maybe 1965-1990. Heavily concentrated in those impressionable teen years.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis; Abbey Road, the Beatles; Beethoven’s 4th andy 5th Symphonies, Minnesota Orchestra led by Osmo Vanska; One, the Beatles; Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits (assuming there is such a beast); Ella Fitzgerald’s Greatest Hits (see Sinatra); everything ever recorded by Sam Robson; everything recorded by Eva Cassidy.

    Give me a few hours and I’ll come up with 20-30 more choices. It’s pretty hard to narrow down a lifetime’s worth of meaningful, life-changing music to 10 albums.

    Chris in Owatonna (technically in Palm Springs this morning. 🙂 )

    Liked by 3 people

    1. sam cooke otis redding roger miller
      neil doamond john denver
      george gershwin count duke satcnmo
      ella tony
      blossom dearie
      johnny cash elvisthe
      the doors
      lyle lovett pontiac
      nashville skyline rag
      buffalo speingfield
      blood sweat and tears
      agree linda cout and spark
      donavon
      traffic
      cream wheels
      led zepplin
      john fayhe and barbara streisands christmas albums

      Liked by 2 people

      1. From Tim’s list:
        The Doors, Blood Sweat and Tears, Barbra Streisand

        Plus
        Ian & Sylvia Four Strong Winds, Bok, Trickett & Muir, Gordon Lightfoot,
        Edith Piaf, Belafonte & Mouskouri, Jefferson Airplane, John Harford.

        Yup, my age is showing….

        Like

  6. Morning! Well, just a few comments in and two of my choices are already here!
    Tapestry – Carol King
    Alice’s Restaurant – Arlo Guthrie
    Million Year Mind – Peter Mayre
    Sweet Baby James – James Taylor
    Monty Python’s Previous Record – Monty Python

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Just me or is it really twisted that tbe Current, which is supposed to appeal to a demographic that has limited experience of music being presented as an album is doing this?

    Sorry to be crabby about what is otherwise a great topic, but I seem to be generally passing through a patch of stupid and arrogant right now and I am fed up with it.

    I’ll go sit with tim on this one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And I just heard a clip from “The Shining” , which is premiering at MN Opera.

      Please. Stop. The. Madness.

      Like

    2. I notice there’s a huge deal being made over the new Beyonce album release. Although younger people probably don’t listen to whole albums at a sitting they way we did, it’s still an event when a group of songs comes out in a batch, which is still called an “album”. Then there is usually a tour around the album.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can’t pick out my top 5 or 10 top favorite albums. Over the years there have been many that were my favorites. My taste in music keeps changing with time and is still evolving. A band I get to hear frequently is the Orange Mighty Trio which includes my son-in-law, Zack Kline. Their music is very good and their recordings are among my top favorites. A few years ago I picked up a recording by the Meters which I really like and I have become interested in their music and related music from New Orleans. Also, I am a big fan of Dean McGraw and his recordings are among my top favorites. I have started renewing my interest in Jazz and hope to become better acquainted with the recent developments in that field of music.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi– I have to get out in the field but I hate to let a music topic pass by without comment.
    As other said, there is so much good music. And of course it’s changed over the years. It’s bugging me lately I can’t remember who did those songs that I knew so well 30 years ago. They say memory is the second thing to go…

    I like a lot of individual songs more than whole albums.
    But–
    Quadrophenia by the Who
    (and now add ‘Classical Quadrophenia to the list)
    Styx,
    Springsteen,
    Billy Joel,
    Yeah, Janis… gotta have Janis. (I took some kids home one day and I was playing Janis in the car. I asked if they liked Janis Joplin and they said ‘Never heard of him’. They walked from that point…)
    Maynard Ferguson jazz before he went to be-bop.
    Genesis — ‘Three Sides Live’ is good.
    Solo Pete Townshend
    Brandi Carlile
    Steely Dan
    Supertramp,
    Johnny Cash…
    Rush.

    More…

    I spent most of the day yesterday in tractors and I’m leaving now to spend most of today in tractors. I would switch back and forth from 89.3 to whatever when I don’t like that choice… but they’ve had some good stuff.

    Later!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My niece the younger (22) loves Janis. PBS aired an American Masters special on her Tuesday night. My niece planned her evening around watching it, and just before it came on, her power went out. Her whole evening was ruined, utterly.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Damn! I forgot Queen! Forgive me Freddie…
      And Pink Floyd!
      And Jethro Tull!
      And Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Brain Salad Surgery)

      Like

        1. my roommates were emerson lake and palmer , yes, wishbone ash, fanatics. they took the fun out of it my stereo was the house stereo because it sounded the best but thay all wanted to listed to the same stuff and i wanted to listed ot miles davis lightning hopkins and jethro tull so the never ending emerson lake and palmer and yes just got me numb after a while.
          kind of like a clockwork orange where they turn ludy b into a sound that makes you wretch. i was almost there with those albums so i hear it and its familiar and my ears perk up then pavlov kicks in and i send up the shields.
          too bad

          Like

  10. I’d like to cheat by choosing “the best of . . . ” albums for most of these folks, but that doesn’t respect the question. So if forced to choose ten albums I come up with:
    Peter Mayer “Earth Town Square”
    Crosby, Stills, Nash “Crosby, Stills & Nash”
    Paul Simon “Graceland”
    Laurie Anderson “Strange Angels”
    Emmylou Harris “Luxury Liner”
    Leo Kottke “Dreams and All That Stuff”
    The Roches “Keep On Doing”
    Bonnie Raitt “Luck of the Draw”
    Alison Krauss “Too Late to Cry”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank the lord, I can post. Yesterday WordPress absolutely stiffed me. Every time I tried to post WP said, “You cannot post that comment.” I was hardly being sassy or vulgar. My comment was just to ask Renee which mystery authors she likes.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I will admit that some of my albums were chosen because of a particular song on them, or in the case of Monty Python, a couple of sketches:

      Like

  11. It IS impossible to narrow it down to 5 or 10. Many of mine have already been mentioned, so I’ll add others that have been influential, some obscure:
    Dancer with Bruised Knees – the McGarrigles
    Joy of Cooking (Toni Brown and Terri Garthwaite, based in Berkeley)
    Omadan (Mike Oldfield)
    The Roches – first album
    John Renborn – something about Unicorn
    John Mayall
    Eric Clapton’s Unplugged
    Chris Smither – hundred dollar valentine

    Like

    1. Oh, and:
      Joan Baez Christmas Album
      The Stone Ponies (Linda Ronstadt et al.)
      Barbara McAfee (local) – Awake
      Santana self-titled
      Dylan’s – New Morning
      something by Dave Moore (thanks, Steve)
      Little Blue Egg – Dave Carter & Tracey Grammer (thanks, Steve)

      Like

        1. Yes to Pentangle, especially their first album and Sweet Child. Also any of Bert Jansch’s albums, but especially Nicola and Lucky Thirteen.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, the McGarrigles, of course. I was in a store in DinkyTown (killing time before an APHC show) when they were playing Dancer With Bruised Knees…I fell totally in love and have been since.

      Like

  12. It’s impossible for me to choose a set of favorites. It just isn’t the way I think. It all depends on my mood. I tried listening to the Current when it first started up. I lasted for about two songs and never went back.
    Some albums/artists I particularly like:
    (again) Carole King “Tapestry”
    Joan Baez “Diamonds and Rust”, “Any Day Now”, “Gracias a la Vida”
    Rosalie Sorrels ” If I Could Be the Rain”
    McGarrigle Sisters “Heart Like A Wheel”
    Laurie Lewis “Restless Rambling Heart”
    Nancy Griffith “Other Voices, Other Rooms”
    Jimmie Dale Gilmore “After Awhile”
    Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”
    Hot Tuna (self titled)
    Taj Mahal “Giant Step/De Ol’ Folks at Home”
    John Renbourn “Faro Annie”
    Don Byron “Bug Music”
    Tchavolo Schmitt “Alors…voila!”
    Cecile McLorin Salvant “Cecile”
    Cristina Branco “Post-Scriptum”
    Roy Bookbinder “Travelin’ Man”
    Melody Gardot “Worrisome Heart”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. As soon as I posted these I realized that I left out at least as many others I like equally well. I could do an additional list, but then I would be Tim.

      Liked by 3 people

  13. There are artists who can put out fabulous cuts but not entire albums that play well. Stan Rogers comes to mind.

    I’d like to add two albums to my list:
    Eliza Gilkyson “Land of Milk and Honey”
    Patty Griffin “Children Running Through”

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I still have some CDs around, but I usually purchase music digitally these days (or get it free from Freegal via Hennepin County Library). I tend to listen to certain songs rather than albums, but for the sake of this exercise, I will limit myself to albums I actually physically own.

    * Windward Away by Archie Fisher
    * Concert in Central Park by Simon and Garfunkel
    * The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
    * Live at the Cellar Door by Richie Havens
    * Songbird by Eva Cassidy
    * Collected by Mary Black
    * A Water Over Stone by Bok, Muir & Trickett
    * Bay of Fundy by Gordon Bok

    And a couple of the digital ones:
    * Odetta Sings Dylan
    * HARP: A Time to Sing by Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert & Pete Seeger

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It was hard to pick only one of her albums, but I had to have her rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. If I had an album if hers with both that and True Colors, I would choose that album.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Clearly I need to move my vinyl albums from the attic to someplace closer to the door in case of fire. Or get a working turntable….

    Like

  16. Like Bill’s, my list would be dependent on my mood at the time of the asking. There is one album that would be on it no matter what: Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” Just a great, great album. Dylan’s “Freewheeling Bob Dylan” would be on it, too, as would Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” or “Miles of Aisles.”

    But how can you choose just five or ten? Seems like an impossible task with so many great artists to choose from. I would categorize them in order to allow me more options. Categories such as albums that are fun to dance to; good for evoking memories; or albums that I associate with a certain stage of my life are but examples of some of the possible categories. The following artists would all be represented: John Prine, Steve Goodman, The Roches, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Guy Clark, Don McClean, Leo Kottke, Cat Stevens, Joan Baez, Tom Waits, Mahalia Jackson, Shawn Colvin, James Keelaghan, and Rosalie Sorrels. I’m not a great fan of Rosalie’s singing, but I can’t resist her story telling. Just love her “Report from Grimes Creek.” On and on it goes. Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Patsy Cline, you get the drift. There just aren’t that many contemporary artists that have weaseled their way into my DNA, probably because I’m not nearly as impressionable as I once was.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Can’t narrow it down to 5 -10. Some of my favorites have already been mentioned. Ones that stick with me from my much younger days are:
    Tapestry – Carole King
    Déjà Vu – CSNY
    Tommy – The Who
    Sgt. Pepper’s – Beatles
    Innervisions – Stevie Wonder
    Tumbleweed Connection – Elton John
    One of my favorite titles (not necessarily favorite album) is REO Speedwagon’s “You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish”

    I love classical music as well and love the Beethoven Symphonies recorded by the MN Orchestra.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember there was another version of Tommy released in the 70’s. It was a sort of quasi-classical rendition featuring the London Symphony Orchestra. There were a number of guest vocalists, including Rod Stewart, Maggie Bell, Richie Havens, and Steve Winwood. It was available at my local library, and I checked it out numerous times and played it to death. Fabulous.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Silly Wizard- Wild & Beautiful
    Phil Cunningham- Palomino Waltz, Airs & Graces, The Pearl
    Andy Stewart- Dublin Lady, Man in the Moon
    Dougie MacLean- Craigie Dhu
    K. D. Lang- Shadowland, Ingenue
    Van Morrison- Moondance
    Rio Nido- I Like to Riff
    Cafe Noir- The Waltz King
    Hot Club of San Francisco- Clair de Lune
    Pearl Django- Avalon
    Dr. John- Afterglow
    Jobim- Finest Hour
    Bebel Gilberto- Tanto Tempo
    Bob Wills- For the Last Time
    Dave Bromberg, Vassar Clements, et al- Hillbilly Jazz

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Here are Husband’s picks:

    John Coltrane– A Love Supreme
    Byrds– Mr. Tambourine Man or Turn Turn Turn
    Who– Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy
    Elvis Costello– My Aim Is True
    Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto
    Rolling Stones–High Tide and Green Grass
    Emmy Lou Harris–Luxury Liner
    Bob Dylan–Blood on the Tracks
    Janis Joplin–Cheap Thrills
    Joni Mitchell–Hejira

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice blog! Thanks for including Odetta! Renee and I are glad to see that our list has at least one album in common with almost everyone’s. We definitely share at least one favorite artist with everyone. You folks can come over and listen to music at our house anytime. Renee’s husband Chris.

      Liked by 3 people

  20. Hello again-

    Finished planting corn about 8:00 tonight. Whew. Glad that’s done.

    Tried listening to the 893 count down while in the tractors today. Sometimes there was a song I liked, but it was generally followed by something I didn’t appreciate so much.
    Eventually I put my earbuds in and listened to ‘Classical Quadrophenia’. And later some Freddie Mercury to make up for forgetting him on my original list.

    (Farming with ear buds. I could see my dad rolling over in his grave… I was still paying attention Dad!)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That live 2-record set by Pete & Arlo.
      The Best of Mississippi John Hurt.
      Allman Brothers at Fillmore East.
      Derek & the Dominos’ Layla.
      That’s That by the Incredible Casuals.
      Largo.
      Seven Year Ache by Roseanne Cash.
      The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Ewan McColl.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. im thinking the opposite way
      this gives me 30 or 40 more to listen to. i am interested in the ones ive never heard of. i used to think i liked joan baez but i dont. i get tired halfway throught e first song
      the who is not my deal but the discoveries are great and im not finding much these days to get me. bt pj turned me on to mulvey i like him and he gave the notion of a song written by tueday midnight is a thing to striove for. i write songs so easily its a shame not to. and mulvey played with kris delmhorst and i really like her she has a norah jones rasp in her voice and a sultry side i enjoy the heck out of
      10 albums… right
      michael buble
      and who is the kid classical voice?
      oh yeah andre botticelli or whatever the blind guys name is

      Like

      1. Funny, I had a similar revelation about Joan Baez recently.

        True confession: I never liked Peter, Paul, and Mary’s music. For some reason Mary’s voice just grated on my ears.

        Like

  21. Last night, as the air in the Twin Cities was thick with the smell of smoke from the fire in Alberta, roughly 1500 miles from here, I was contemplating what “essential albums” the 80,000 fleeing for their lives were grabbing. I’m betting it would a very short list. Can’t imagine what the intensity of heat and noise and smell must be like closer to the area. Poor people. I don’t even want to think of all the wildlife that is perishing. Just heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Reminds me of my favorite Louis Jenkins’ (prose) poems:
    Appointed Rounds
    At first he refused to deliver junk mail because it was stupid, all those deodorant ads, money-making ideas and contents. Then he began to doubt the importance of the other mail he carried. He began to randomly select first class mail for non-delivery. After he had finished his mail route each day he would return home with his handful of letters and put them in t he attic. He didn’t open them and never even looked at them again. IOt was as if he were an agent of Fate, capricious and blind. In the several years before he was caught, friends vanished, marriages failed, business deals feel through. Toward the end he became more and more bold, deleting houses, then whole blocks from his route. He began to feel he’d been born in t he wrong era. If only he could have been a Pony Express rider galloping into some prairie town with an empty bag, or the runner from Marathon collapsing in the streets of Athens, gasping, “No news.”

    Like

  23. But, on the other hand, my favorite letter-carrier story is from a couple years ago when I ordered a book from a small town in Norway that arrived with a vague address (wish I could remember exactly what it was) for me (did it have my name on it?) in downtown Duluth…anyway, on the day before they were going to send it back, one of the regular carriers at the Holiday Center where the MPR office is, brought to me to see if it was mine….whatta guy!

    Like

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